Saturday 10 September 2016

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch @blakecrouch1

'Are you happy in your life?'

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he wakes to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
Before the man he's never met smiles down at him and says, 'Welcome back, my friend.'
In this world he's woken up to, Jason's life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.
Is it this world or the other that's the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could've imagined - one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch was published in hardback by Macmillan on 11th August 2016

Speculative fiction. Science Fiction. Fantasy. Quantam Mechanics.  Yes, all of these. All part of the total mess-with-your-head story that is Dark Matter.

I didn't really know what I was picking up. I kind of thought it was going to be a crime thriller. It is a thriller, and it starts with a crime, but Dark Matter is so much more.

The first half of the book is pretty straightforward, or so I thought.  Jason Dessen is a professor at a local college, happily married to Daniela and father of a teenage son Charlie. It's an average evening, and Daniela encourages him to meet his friend for a drink. He'll be back in time for dinner.

No, he won't. Or will her? Jason is abducted and whisked off in a van, he wakes up on a hospital trolley. He doesn't recognise the place or the people. But they know him.

Blake Crouch has done what I thought nobody would do. He snared me in with his excellent story-telling, the fast-paced, almost breathless speed of the plot and the total compulsion to keep on reading. I would have bet good money that a science-fiction novel, based on physics, with a whole heap of science thrown at me would never do that.

Dark Matter is clever. It's about choice, and regret. It's about wanting what you could have had, but decided not to have. It's about survival and loyalty and love.

I'm no science buff, I know nothing about the theories that Jason describes within this story. However, Blake Crouch's prose makes everything seem so simple, it all falls into place. I can't even begin to try to explain the plot, it's creepy, terrifying, perplexing and at times it's violent and ruthless, but it's incredibly moreish. I read Dark Matter in just a couple of sittings, it catches you up and doesn't let go until the very last word.

It's all a bit crazy, but it's a fabulous reading experience. I loved it.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy of Dark Matter for review.

Blake Crouch has sold over a million books and his work has been translated into more than twenty languages. Known for high-concept fiction with breakneck pacing and groundbreaking genre cross-breeding, six of his books have hit the Kindle Top 10, and two have reached the #1 spot. His short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Alfred Hitchcock, Ellery Queen, Cemetery Dance, and Thriller 2, edited by Clive Cussler.
In 2013, his novel Pines was nominated for ITW's Best Paperback Original Thriller Award, and his Wayward Pines series has been made into a TV series which is currently airing on Fox International Channels, directed by M. Night Shyamalan and starring Matt Dillon, Juliette Lewis, Melissa Leo and Terrence Howard. He has been featured in Time Magazine, the L.A. Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Entertainment Weekly. Blake lives in Colorado
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